Mobile DataFixed and mobile data traffic continues to grow by leaps and bounds across the U.S., North America and worldwide, according to Sandvine’s “Global Internet Phenomena Report: 1H 2013.”

Mean monthly fixed access network usage amounted to 44.7 gigabytes (GB) through the first six months of the year, a 39% year-over-year increase, while mean monthly mobile network traffic rose roughly 25%, up from 312.8 megabytes (MB) to 390.1 MB.

Increases in median monthly usage across North America were even more substantial, more than doubling for mobile networks from 25.5 MB to 58.7 MB over the past year. Median monthly usage for fixed access networks jumped 56.5% higher, from 10.3 GB to 18.2 GB.

Real-Time Entertainment – streaming video and audio – continued to account for the largest share of traffic over “virtually every network we examined,” according to Sandvine’s report authors, who go on to state, “we expect its continued growth to lead to the emergence of longer form video on mobile networks globally in 2013.”

Drilling down and examining Real-Time Entertainment traffic across fixed and wireless networks at the regional level in North America, “the bulk of total usage comes from Real-Time Entertainment traffic,” a finding consistent with all Sandvine’s recent reports.

Real-Time Entertainment accounted for over 68% of downstream bytes during peak periods, compared with 65% six months ago. Furthermore, Netflix accounts for nearly 1/3 (32.3%) of peak downstream traffic on fixed networks “and has seen its share on mobile networks double in the past year.”

Though Neflix’s share of downstream fixed access network traffic in North America dropped a fraction of percent in 1H 2013 from 2H 2012, competing pay-TV Internet video service providers saw larger declines. Amazon’s dropped 1.31% over the period, for instance, while HBO Go’s share of fixed access network traffic in North America dropped 0.34%.

Network traffic data for North America during 1H 2013 also illustrate another upward trend Sandvine expects will continue: offloading of mobile traffic on to Wi-Fi networks. More than 20% of traffic on fixed networks in North America is being generated by smartphones and tablets, according to Sandvine, with Apple’s iOS-based ecosystem of devices, products and services “accounting for over 35% of all streaming audio and video on fixed access networks.”

Sandvine notes a “noticeable increase in usage share” for Google’s YouTube in 1H 2013. YouTube’s share of downstream fixed access network traffic in North America rose to 17.1%, up from 13.8% a year earlier. Sandvine attributes growing use of YouTube to increased use of smartphones and tablets within the home (known as Home Roaming) as opposed to “dabbling in offering longer form videos and streaming live events.”

Also of note, peer-to-peer networking software provider BitTorrent’s share of North American fixed access network traffic is declining faster than Sandvine originally forecast. BitTorrent accounted for 9.2% of peak-period traffic and 11.1% of total daily traffic, “which demonstrates a sharp decline in share, as just 18 months ago BitTorrent accounted for 18.9% of total daily traffic in North America.”

Pointing out that an examination of network usage distribution would be enlightening as North American cable and DSL providers consider implementing usage-based billing, Sandvine found asymmetries between the heaviest users of upstream versus downstream resources.

The top 1% of North American subscribers who make the heaviest use of networks’ upstream resources account for over 1/3 (34.2%) of total upstream traffic, according to Sandvine. The comparable percentile of downstream users account for 10.1% of downstream bytes. In contrast, “the network’s lightest 50% of users account for only 6.4% of total monthly traffic.”

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